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Radiology. 1999 Oct;213(1):150-5.

Acute stroke: improved nonenhanced CT detection--benefits of soft-copy interpretation by using variable window width and center level settings.

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Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114-9657, USA.



To assess the use of nonstandard, variable window width and level review settings in computed tomography (CT) without contrast material administration in the detection of acute stroke.


Nonenhanced CT was performed in 21 patients with acute (< 6 hours) middle cerebral arterial stroke and nine control patients. Two blinded neuroradiologists rated all scans for presence of parenchymal hypoattenuation. Images were reviewed at a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) workstation, with standard, locally determined center level and window width settings of 20 and 80 HU and with variable soft-copy settings initially centered at a level of 32 HU with a width of 8 HU. Reviewers altered settings to accentuate gray and white matter contrast.


With standard viewing parameters, sensitivity and specificity for stroke detection were 57% and 100%. Sensitivity increased to 71% with variable window width and center level settings, without loss of specificity. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed a significant improvement in accuracy with nonstandard, soft-copy review settings (P = .03, one-tailed z test).


In nonehanced CT of the head, detection of ischemic brain parenchyma is facilitated by soft-copy review with variable window width and center level settings to accentuate the contrast between normal and edematous tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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